For a parent, answering the door to Child Protective Workers who are responding to an allegation of child abuse or neglect is a terrifying experience. If you have never been through a Child Protective Worker (CPW) investigation you have no idea what to expect or how to respond. Even if you are certain you have not abused or neglected your child in any way you should contact an experienced Tennessee family law attorney right away to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the investigative process and beyond if necessary. Like most parents in your situation, your most immediate concern/question will most likely be “ Will child protection workers always remove a child from the home in Tennessee? ”
Allegations of abuse or neglect can come from a number of sources, including, but not limited to teachers, doctors, family members, and even neighbors. When an allegation is made the agency responsible for following up on the report is the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. While every report and subsequent investigation is unique, the next step after a report of abuse or neglect is typically for a CPW to interview the parent or guardian. A CPW will generally conduct a face to face interview at the home which allows the worker to observe the child as well as the home environment. If the allegations appear to be substantiated, a CPW does have the authority (with approval from superiors) to remove the child from the home; however, removal is a option of last resort.
Child Protective Workers are governed by the State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services Administrative Policies and Procedures. According to those policies and procedures,
Removal: Safety and Permanency Considerations
The case worker must document thorough reasonable efforts to secure culturally sensitive, appropriate and available services to meet the needs of the family and child in order to prevent removal of the child from the family. (Emphasis added)
A caseworker can and will remove a child from a home if the worker believes the child is in immediate danger because of ongoing abuse or neglect. The same policies and procedures that mandate removal as an option of last resort specifically allow a worker to do what is necessary to protect an at risk child, including removal from the home.
Child Protective Services Immediate Protection Agreements
If, in the course of conducting a child protective services investigation or assessment, a caseworker assesses a child to be at risk of imminent harm, he/she shall take actions necessary to ensure the safety of the child. The caseworker must first consider the feasibility and practicality of a temporary family-based Immediate Protection Agreement (IPA). Any IPA that involves a child leaving his/her residence, having a parent /caretaker or household member leave his/her residence, or in any way restricts contact between a child and parent/caretaker must have the prior approval of the team leader and a DCS attorney.
If you discover that you are the subject of a CPS, the best thing you can do for your child and for you is to contact the experienced Tennessee family law attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment so you can receive the advice and guidance you need.